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Success Is In The Journey and Not Just a Final DestinationERP organizational change success is in the project life-cycle journey (pre, go-live, and post) and not just a final “go-live” destination. ERP organizational change research suggests that the stakeholder idea of “success” may vary with time. Additionally,  “success” can also improve more and more over time.

“Success” Needs to Be Objectively Managed

When it comes to ERP organizational change, success is a process and not simply a final destination that occurs when you “hit the switch”. Clearly, there are critical objectives that need to be met at the time of a “go-live” (no operational downtime, no customer delivery issues, no product or service quality issues, ability to invoice, etc. etc. ). That is, once an organization “hits the switch” (and throughout the entire ERP organizational change life cycle for that matter) the opportunities for organizational continuous improvement, organizational learning and sharing, and further leveraging your new ERP has just begun. This notion may indicate a few points:

  • Organizations need to be deliberate, formal, and detail-oriented in how they define and communicate success. Much ERP organizational change research (as noted in previous posts) indicates that often success can be subjective and the definition can change over time either for individuals or stakeholder groups.
  • Organizations also need to be deliberate, formal, and detail-oriented in how they measure and evaluate “success”. Furthermore, organizations need to be able to effectively re-calibrate as needed in order to achieve the organizational definition of success. Throughout the entire ERP organizational change life-cycle, KPIs and metrics that are tactical and concrete (and incorporated to measure “success” specifically) should be a part of an ERP organizational change plan.
  • Organizations need to be realistic and honest about the nature of large-scale ERP organizational change. (Moreover, this knowledge needs to be considered in how an organization ultimately defines and measures success). That is, success doesn’t always come easy as indicated by objective and vendor-neutral ERP organizational change research.  Even successful ERP organizational change endeavors often realize significant challenges.
The Ebb and Flow of “Success” 

Throughout an ERP organizational change endeavor, “success” can often vary with time and can also improve over time. This is perhaps due to 1) the notion that stakeholder perceptions of success can be subjective and change over the course of a project (for a variety of reasons), and 2) the fact is, large scale organizational change actually does naturally experience “dips and peaks”. As Dr. Denison stated in a video, “The Impact of Culture”, “Stability is a big enough challenge in a predictable environment”, let alone during often extremely disruptive (even for successful endeavors) ERP organizational change. This means that organizational stakeholders may ebb and flow over time in how success is perceived, defined, or expected. And, while this “ebb and flow” can be a productive and natural part of ERP organizational change, perhaps this “ebb and flow” is best managed by sound transformational leadership in order to best guide the unpredictable challenges and environments. (More to come on “Transformational Leadership” in the next couple of days with friend and colleague Dr. Justin Goldston.)

In part, ERP organizational change consists of an accumulation of how well transformation “success”  is properly defined, managed, and advocated for throughout the entire ERP organizational change lifecycle.  Perhaps, as indicated by research, perceptions of success can/do change with time and position in the project’s lifecycle. But perhaps, being cognizant of this natural “ebb and flow” of ERP organizational change, transformational leadership could be prepared for and advocate for success even during, the “dips” in the ERP organizational change success graph? The fact is, even highly successful endeavors often realize significant challenges…but yet they were, well, successful.

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